Updated: Does Mazda 3’s Evolved Kodo Language Impress You?

Kodo means Soul of Motion. Kodo comes from 3 Japanese words, “rin,” “dou" and “en” which means pure and refined presence, dynamic motion, and sensuality of motion.


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We’ve anticipated for this new model for quite some time now. Having seen the development of the Mazda 3 from an  awkward teen to a highly fashionable and sensual adult, we hope that the new model would at the least allow us the same impression.

 

Bermaz Auto Philippines, the official distributor of Mazda vehicles, just recently unveiled the much-anticipated All-New Mazda3. The engineers at Mazda made it their mission to amaze and delight their customers. They applied their human-centric philosophy for dramatic improvements in every area: design, driving performance, NVH, environmental performance, and quality feel. The all-new Mazda3 ushers in the new era Premium by elevating Mazda’s already exceptional driving experience together with even higher levels of design, craftsmanship, engineering and safety.

Well the new Mazda 3 did not disappoint. The Kodo design philosophy has done wonders for the Mazda 3, giving it a fresh and exquisite look while retaining the performance and functionality of its purpose (if we are to believe the spec sheet since I have not had the chance to drive it).

There are two trim/engine choices available, the Elite 4-door Sedan and 5-door Sportback variants are equipped with the highly fuel-efficient 1.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine and the Premium has the more powerful 2.0-liter engine with additional safety and comfort features.

 

Design that Moves You

The Evolved KODO design language, was first featured in the Mazda3, it’s a more mature and elegant expression of life and vitality, which was introduced in the RX-Vision concept car at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.  The development theme for the All-New Mazda3, their designers and engineers set out to make a car people would long for, creating a new definition of beauty that expresses the“less is more” Japanese minimalist aesthetic which was the philosophy echoed by the Vision Coupe, Mazda’s award-winning concept car unveiled in the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

Absent are the typical character lines that dominate traditional car designs, a more sophisticated presence was achieved with a cleaner look, but still distinctly Mazda.

The all-new Mazda3 embodies itself in two characters, the Free Spirit, represented in the Mazda3 Sportback. To achieve a look that best embodies this personality, Mazda designers took an unprecedented approach to design that eliminates all character lines to achieve a form that is determined by the interplay of light, shadow and reflections of the surrounding environment. With its beautifully curved body panels, the all-new Mazda3 Sportback is a realization of the “Beauty in Subtraction” in design.

The second character is that of sophisticated person, combining dignity with strong individualism. The usual three-box sedan proportions were further refined to be sleeker, more elegant, and graceful. The lower hood line and increased overall length versus the previous generation, the All-New Mazda3 Sedan appeals more to those who are traditional, conventional in wisdom and rules while exuding it’s unconventional character.

The clean exterior is a big part of the design direction for the Mazda3. Hidden windshield wipers, washer nozzles tucked in the wiper assemblies, hidden driver’s side keyhole and hidden locking and unlocking sensors behind the main door handles and underneath the tailgate logo, Mazda designers achieved a cleaner and more mature premium-ness that doesn’t rely on flamboyance and pretension.

Craftsmanship Based on Human Senses

Every aspect of the interior has been laid out in perfect symmetry to further strengthen the connection between car and driver. Consistent with the exterior design direction, the interior goal of the Mazda3 is simplicity based on the aesthetics of “less is more.” A cleaner cabin was realized without the loss of functionality by removing visual noise. Master craftsmen or Takumi, were tasked to achieve a higher level premium feel and quality can be felt when looking at, touching and operating the various cabin appointments.

Cupholders have been moved forward of the drive selection lever while a large center armrest with a “Karakuri” console lid mechanism has been adopted to make opening and closing the compartment lid easier and more in tune with the natural movements of one’s arms. Ergonomic changes were adopted to make driving as natural and effortless as possible.

Soft touch surfaces with Mazda’s own grain design express the richness and warmth of genuine leather. Exclusive in the 2.0-liter Sportback is the newly developed Burgundy interior color. With its deep, vivid look, this special red leather heightens the emotion of exterior design and creates a look that appeals to mature tastes.

To deepen the level of driving pleasure, Takumi craftsmen made sure that every switch, button and control offered a consistent and “lively feeling.” A unified sensation of operation can be felt in almost every switch.

They also worked on the unification of interior illumination. Making the color temperature for all lights inside the cabin uniform, giving a sense of premium consistency. This level of craftsmanship considers how human beings see minute differences in quality and by limiting these differences, a feeling of consistency is accomplished, further leading towards the direction of premium and refinement that only vehicles a class above previously enjoyed.

A Deeper Level of Driving Pleasure

Over the years in realizing Jinba Ittai—the state of oneness between car and driver— to further understand how humans achieved balance in their everyday activities Mazda engineers studied the way people walk, sit and how they use their muscles in accomplishing operational tasks, they then redesigned and organically linked every component to draw out people’s innate ability to maintain balance. By maximizing human abilities, they were able to achieve a level of driving comfort and pleasure never before experienced in the Mazda3 and in it’s class.

Human-centric Philosophy: Supporting the Senses

Achieving the ideal driving position is a key design and engineering consideration in every Mazda vehicle. This is where driving pleasure begins. From the correct pedal placement and design that aligns where one’s right foot naturally falls, to a steering wheel that allows up to 70mm of telescopic adjustment, to an adjustable seat that supports the pelvis and promotes a natural S-shaped curve with the driver’s spine, Mazda3 achieves a relaxed posture that lessens the effort in driving and allows one to put more focus on the road, reducing muscle burden and minimal fatigue whether on short or long drives.

Achieving the Ideal Human-Machine Interface

To achieve Effortless Joyful Driving. Mazda engineers organized information and controls in a way which allows drivers to easily understand, operate and make decisions.  Effort was made to eliminate visual noise in the driver oriented cockpit design. The design and shape of each part that faces the driver all lead the driver’s eyes to a vanishing point ahead of the vehicle. The dashboard layout is simplified, making it easily understood and operated without shifting the line of sight.

This All-New Mazda3 introduces a new windshield-projected Active Driving Display displaying Information such as vehicle speed, traffic signs, and navigation information to reduce the time the driver takes his eyes off the road. The projection appears as if it were 2.3-meters ahead. Making it easy for your eyes to refocus from reading information and assessing the driving environment ahead.

A 7-inch TFT LCD multimeter display has been adopted in the Mazda3 to show a simplified layout of vehicle status information. Similar to the display found in the Mazda6 and Mazda CX-9, the new layout can be toggled to reveal essential information such as coolant temperature, fuel level and efficiency, as well as trip and odometer readings. The use of a common font in all displays and labels inside the cockpit likewise eases readability and lessens confusion when looking at different sources of information.

The Mazda Connect infotainment system has been completely redesigned. With a wider 8.8-inch display, it has a simplified graphic user interface layout. Positioned higher and further away from the driver so information such as media, maps, warning and alert details are a mere glance away.  The operation of the system is consolidated into a more ergonomic and intuitive Command and Controller knob and switch layout, eliminating the distracting touchscreen interface, and improving the hardware speed and performance of the system, the driver is more able to focus on driving resulting in a safe and stress-free driving experience.

Raising Awareness

Audible alerts utilizing a new set of chimes were designed to help the driver intuitively grasp the level of urgency and the source of the issue. The type and number of repetitions and audible alerts were carefully selected, and the sounds used were designed in accordance with human characteristics. Warning emanating from the front speakers are designed to urge drivers to check the gauge display while warnings of the possibility of rear end collision sound off from the rear speakers.

Visual alerts go hand in hand with audible tones in order to inform the driver of necessary information. Gauges that are regularly checked while driving have been designed to display warnings in a simple and timely manner. The Mazda Connect monitor then shows the driver a more detailed and clear explanation of the issue and tells the driver how he should respond.

Utilizing the Senses to Achieve Driving Pleasure

Aside from design cues that lead the driver’s eye towards a vanishing point ahead of the vehicle, the lower dashboard belt line aids in eliminating clutter and distraction in seeing this vanishing point. The A-pillar has been made thinner to open up the driver’s field of vision in the usual blind spots of the vehicle aiding the driver in recognizing nearby objects or pedestrians not only when making turns, but at all times and in all driving situations.

The redesigned windshield wiper aids in this objective, enabling precise control of the speed and angle of the wipers, so they clean right up the edge of the A-pillars. The new wiper technology works to secure a clear field of view near the A-pillar on the driver’s side which is critical for checking pedestrians or small vehicles crossing the street or seeing what is around the corner. The integration of the washer nozzles into the wiper arm minimizes temporary visibility interference caused by washer fluid.

Unprecedented Refinement

The goal of Mazda engineers for the Mazda3 was to provide a “high-quality quietness” that is satisfying to all occupants. Mazda’s human research studies, development focused on three sound characteristics that directly impact cabin occupants—sound volume, changes in pitch and tone over time, and the direction from which sounds originate.

To reduce Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) levels, Mazda engineers left space between the body and carpeting floor. Imagine the carpet and the body as two walls, and then designing them to match the characteristics of the sound-absorbing upholstery material attached to the carpets and headliners, sound reflections were then greatly reduced via absorption. The number of holes in the body, chassis and carpets were also reduced to significantly enhance sound insulation.

Forty-nine key design and engineering improvements were made over the previous generation from the addition of engine insulation material, new seals around the door, acoustic glass for the front windshield, the redesign of key suspension and chassis components, the effort to reduce NVH has been extensive and all-encompassing.

The Ideal Audio System

With interior noise intrusion greatly reduced, Mazda enhanced the quality of the music experience inside the cabin. The standard 8-speaker Mazda Harmonic Acoustics sound system elevates the istening experience at whatever volume the driver and passengers prefer while ensuring high-fidelity reproduction of music and voice.

Speaker placement changes were implemented as the low frequency woofers were relocated from the front door to recesses underneath the dashboard. This reduced the amount of vibrations the door but improved bass response. Mid and high-frequency speaker locations are now optimized to direct sound to the listeners directly.

A 12-speaker Bose® Audio Premium Sound System available in the Premium variants further enhancing listening pleasure with the addition of a center speaker, sub-woofer and satellite speakers. Custom tuning to provides more powerful bass and higher audio quality. Resulting in a driving experience that enriches to the senses.

Proven Powertrain Performance and Efficiency

There are two engine options— the 111Ps 1.5-liter and the 154Ps 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G in-line 4-cylinder Double Overhead Camshaft gasoline engines. Engineered to provide smooth and efficient power delivery, these engines are the most technologically advanced naturally aspirated motors in its class. Optimized intake ports and piston shape, split fuel injection and a coolant control valve all contribute to deliver high levels of dynamic performance, intuitive control, fuel economy and environmental friendliness. Mated to the responsive Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission, the all-new Mazda3 guarantees to deliver an even more comfortable drive that puts a premium of refinement and smoothness Designed to run even on 91-RON unleaded fuel, the Skyactiv-G engines provide more than ample power while maintaining everyday practicality and high fuel efficiency due to its use of high 13:1 compression ratios and direct fuel injection technology.

These same engines took Mazda to the top of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of most fuel-efficient automotive brands for five straight years, from 2013 to 2017.

 

Unparalleled Safety

Mazda Proactive Safety offers the driver reassurance while providing all cabin occupants a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience. With the introduction of a 7th knee airbag across all variants, advanced i-Activsense technologies in the Premium line, as well as passive safety innovations designed to protect cabin occupants, Mazda is constantly making efforts to advance its safety technologies and reduce the incidence of accidents on the road.

Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC)

Adaptive Cruise Control or MRCC automatically adjusts the speed of the car and maintains a preset distance to the vehicle ahead. When the vehicle in front moves out of the way or you change lanes, the system resumes the originally set cruise control speed. MRCC also alerts the driver to brake harder when it detects abrupt braking by the vehicle ahead. It then resumes forward motion once the car in front accelerates.

Driver Monitoring System

Driver Monitoring utilizes an infrared camera and LEDs mounted in the center display to check for drowsiness, inattention and fatigue. If the system determines the situation is dangerous, it sounds an alert and primes the Smart Brake Support (SBS) system to reduce the chances of collision.

Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)

At speeds above 60km/h, LDWS employs forward-sensing cameras to monitor lane markings on the road ahead. When unintended lane departure is detected, LDWS warns the driver by vibrating the steering wheel or sounding an alert.

Cruising and Traffic Support (CTS)

CTS helps reduce driving fatigue when in traffic jams on the highway. When engaged, CTS automatically controls vehicle speed to keep a suitable distance from the vehicle ahead. It also assists with steering torque to maintain proper lane position through bends. When lane markings are not detected, the system follows the path of the preceding vehicle.

Front and Rear Cross Traffic Alert

When entering T-junctions, FCTA uses front-side radars to monitor diagonal blind spots and warns drivers of approaching vehicles. The system operates at speeds up to approximately 10km/h. While reversing, side-facing sensors on the rear bumper detect oncoming traffic and the system alerts the driver of the moving vehicle.

Smart Brake Support (SBS) Rear

When reversing, low objects behind the car are detected by the system. If SBS-R’s rear facing ultra-sonic sensor detects obstacles behind the vehicle as speeds between 2 and 8km/h and the system determines the driver is unaware of the obstacle and judges a collision is imminent, it applies the brakes to help reduce collision damage.

 

Available Variants

The all-new Mazda3 is available in five distinct trims and prices:

1.5-liter Elite Sedan at Php 1,295,000

1.5-liter Elite Sportback at Php 1,320,000

2.0-liter Premium Sedan at Php 1,495,000

2.0-liter Premium Sportback at Php 1,510,000

2.0-liter Mazda3Speed Sportback Php 1,590,000

 


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Ira Panganiban
The author is a certified motorhead and has been a journalist for the past 30 years. He will be a journalist all his life. He thinks he is famous and his mother agrees. His father has another opinion on that matter. Email him at irapanganiban@wheelsph.com

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